OCTA Board approves plan to cut 150,000 hours of bus service
From the Orange County Register – A late-night bus service that serves graveyard-shift workers and bus routes that go from Brea to Santa Ana and Seal Beach to Westminster will be eliminated as the Orange County Transportation Authority looks for ways to make up for severe budget shortfalls.
The OCTA Board on a 14-1 vote approved a plan that cuts 150,000 hours of service from the bus schedule – a smaller cut than had been expected. At one time, the agency was looking to slash 300,000 hours of service.
Director Janet Nguyen opposed the cuts.
A bus route – initially on the chopping block – that serves many Cal State Fullerton students has been restored on the weekdays.
Bus riders and advocates – including students, low-wage employees and the disabled filled the meeting room to voice their concerns of the reduction. Cal State Fullerton students applauded the board for restoring the Fullerton to Orange route. If eliminated, they said, it would have affected many of their peers going to class.
Under the approved plan, late night-early morning service on four routes stops at 1 a.m. and resumes at about 4 a.m.
Eliminated routes include service from Seal Beach to Westminster and Brea to Santa Ana on weekdays. Service from Huntington Beach to Costa Mesa will be eliminated on weekends.
Midday service from Fullerton to Huntington Beach will be eliminated on weekdays. The plan eliminates about 8 percent of the county’s bus service by early next year. Eight routes will be restructured and the frequency of service would be reduced on 11 routes on the weekdays.
“Everybody has been affected by these changes – the seniors, people riding access buses, students, mothers with children,” said Director Art Brown. “This is something the board does not want to do.”
The board action means that since September 2008, OCTA has reduced 20 percent of bus service – a total of 383,000 annual revenue vehicle hours – to bring service in line with available revenue. OCTA faces a more than $330 million shortfall over the next five years.
The county transit agency had been preparing to cut 300,000 service hours by March. But that was before the state lost a lawsuit over how it handles millions of dollars in transportation funds – a ruling the Orange County agency thinks could send $18 million its way annually starting within two years.
For detailed route information, go to www.octa.net/marchchange.
By Alejandra Molina
Orange County Register